The hacking of WiFi networks can be highly lucrative for cybercriminals. If WiFi passwords are obtained by hackers, malware can be installed and every user who connects to that network faces a higher risk of having their device and sensitive information stolen.

Strong passwords should be set on Wi-Fi networks to make it harder for cybercriminals to guess the passwords. However, a ISP in the United States recently encouraged its customers to make their Wi-Fi passwords less secure, suggesting they change them to show support for their Super Bowl team.

Charter Spectrum – the second largest ISP in the United States – sent the following tweet to its customers on January 23, 2017 – “Change your WiFi password and show guests where your loyalty lies! #ThatsMyTeam”.

With the Super Bowl fast approaching, the idea was for businesses to show their support for either the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons. By changing their Wi-Fi passwords to GO_ATLANTA or GO_NEWENGLAND they would be telling their customers that they fully supported their local team. It is clear what the intention of the ISP was, although suggesting an easy password for a Wi-Fi network and then tweeting it to customers and followers of the #ThatsMyTeam hashtag was a monumentally bad idea.

It is possible that the ISP was trying to suggest that businesses change the name of their WiFi network temporarily. That would not pose any cybersecurity risk, although that is not what the tweet said. The ISP was widely criticized for the tweet on social media sites and the tweet has since been deleted.

Making a WiFi password less secure makes it easier for hackers to conduct man in the middle attacks. These attacks are where an attacker intercepts and alters communications between two parties – In this case a person who connects to the WiFi network and the website which they wish to communicate – Their bank or an online store for instance. Email conversations can also be hijacked and communications intercepted. Hackers can eavesdrop on conversations and gather information that can be used in future spear phishing campaigns or highly sensitive login credentials to work networks or secure accounts can be gained.

We advise always setting a strong, secure password on Wi-Fi networks and changing that password regularly to prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage. As an additional cybersecurity protection for Wi-Fi network users, a web filter should be used.

By installing WebTitan on your WiFi network, it is possible to control the websites that customers can access. Websites containing exploit kits that silently download malware onto users’ devices can be blocked. A web filter can also be used to prevent users from visiting inappropriate websites that could cause offense to other patrons or harm to minors – pornographic websites for instance. By exercising just a little control over accessible content, a WiiFi network can be made safe and secure for all users.